13 March, 2008

Best Friends Part 1 - Paddy

Part 1 - Miss Paddy

Mostly retired at 10-years-old, but still earning ribbons in Tunnelers and Hoopers is:

Paddy, PD1, PD2, NAC, OAC, NJC, NCC, TN-N, TN-O, TG-N, CGC

Paddy is my first "real" dog. A combination of Australian Cattle Dog and "Handsome Stranger," when Paddy and I met she was 2-days-old and fit in the palm of my hand. Though I didn't know it yet, I became her mother on that fateful day at the animal shelter, and nursed her by hand with a bottle with her littermates. My intent when I brought Paddy home was to foster her and find an appropriate home for her and her siblings. But Paddy was special. Unlike any foster dog before or since, she stole my heart and I was a willing victim. So as Paddy grew to be 2-months-old and I realized I was hers for keeps, I broke my lease, found a house and moved so I could keep my dog. Crazy dog owner historical movement #1.

The first dog I've owned as an adult and given my heart and soul to, we learned a lot together as she had a very challenging adolescence. She has since matured into the best dog I have ever had the pleasure to own. Paddy is my soulmate in the form of a dog. She can gaze into my eyes and know my thoughts, and she always looks after me if I am ill or have a hole in my heart.

If she has the slightest injury or illness, my heart nearly breaks and I can't hold back a tear. She is the most skilled dog I have ever met at engaging shy dogs in play, raising puppies to understand what an adult dog looks, acts, sounds and feels like. Paddy has assisted me in rehabilitating dozens of aggressive dogs owned by my training clients. She has helped small children and adults who are afraid of dogs reconsider their fears and make their first canine friend. Entertaining with tricks and being a calming influence with her gentle nature, she spent many weekends as a therapy dog at the local hospice.

And not to be forgotten, she has the most beautiful velvety-soft ears known to man.

Agility was a brief hobby for us as she sustained an ankle injury at age 4 and had to be retired from jumping. However, we still do the occasional tunnel or hoop class and have a lot of fun together doing it.

After a few trials, we had our first real weekend of success. 6 qualifying rounds!

A proud dog, she always has an air of calm. Her friends know her for her superior sense of judgement in all circumstances. Mind you, while Paddy is often a serious dog, she can also steal a slice from the center of a loaf of bread without disturbing any neighboring slices (we all know the center slice is the BEST one) and will wait all day for a piece of pizza crust.

Of late I've noticed her little brown toes are tipped with silver-gray. Her muzzle hairs are getting lighter, her eyelashes have turned white. I don't know when it happened, but Paddy started getting older. I can hardly stand to think of a time when I might not have my Paddington girl, but the evidence is before my very eyes with every frosted strand of fur, and the tiniest blue glow coming into her eyes. Fortunately, she is the type of lady who no one can guess her age, and everyone assumes she is a perpetual puppy.

Perhaps she is a little spoiled - after all, she slept in the hotel bed after our first ever agility trial. We were both too tired even to eat dinner!

So for everything you have done for me, I thank you, my soulmate. You deserve the very best of anything I can provide. I promise to be ever truthful and straightforward, fair, honest and to love you every day, Paddy.

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